Michigan professor in France recounts Nice attack mayhem

In this video grab taken Thursday July 14, 2016, ambulances and Police cars are seen after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who’d gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice. Officials and eyewitnesses described as a deliberate attack. There appeared to be many casualties. (BFMTV via AP)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Just as the mayhem erupted in Nice, France, Grand Valley State University professor Carol Wilson was right around the corner, sitting down to dinner with a group of her students studying in France.

The Associated Press reports that at least 77 people were killed when a truck loaded with weapons and hand grenades plowed through Bastille Day revelers gathered to watch fireworks. The driver was killed by police.

“People started running in from the passage way and screaming,” Wilson recalled, still shaken from all the chaos.

Wilson is the director of GVSU’s French Language and Culture Program. She’s in France with another GVSU professor and 18 students.

A Police car is parked near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Christian Alminana)
A Police car is parked near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who’d gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Christian Alminana)

Wilson knew many of her students were watching fireworks right where the truck driver plowed through the crowd. She quickly made sure everyone in her group was safe.

“I usually feel very safe here. It’s a strange unreal feeling. The other professor got back to his apartment and he was saying he was passing restaurants where the tables were turned over and dishes were broken because everyone just left in a panic. It doesn’t look like the same city,” said Wilson.

Wilson pointed out how out of all the violence she’s watched many stepping up to help each other.

“It’s really, really sad when things like this happen, but it’s also pretty amazing to see how people step up to help each other,” said Wilson.  “

“Taxi drivers are now giving people rides for free, people are opening up their homes to strangers for safety. There’s always evil, but there’s always so much love and life to outshine it and that’s always heartwarming to see,” Wilson said, reassuring parents back in Michigan that they’re all safe.

Wilson is scheduled to stay in Nice until July 24 and then take her students to Paris for the final week of the program.

Despite Thursday’s attack, she doesn’t see any of those details changing.

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